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Tithing

(1,866 words)

Author(s): Hutter, Manfred | Otto, Eckart | Reichman, Ronen | Strohm, Christoph
[German Version] I. History of Religion Instances in which a certain share of a person’s gains were ceded to the gods are known from the religions of the ancient Near East and of Classical Antiquity; on the evidence of the Old Testament (e.g. Lev 27:32f.; 1 Sam 8:15), Judaism and Christianity were also familiar with tithing (see III, IV below). Even the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons), which only cultivates a loose relationship to biblical tradition, takes up this notion in the Book of Mormon (cf. Alma 13:14f.), although it provides it with a new justification by citing a revelation to J. Smith (Doctrine and Covenants 119:4). The term “tithing” must be understood against this ultimately biblical background. In practical respects, other religions are also familiar with the notion that a certain portion of one’s agricultural or economic proceeds belongs to a deity or religious institution; in many cases, the purpose of such levies is to support the disadvantaged me…

Politics

(7,247 words)

Author(s): Herms, Eilert | Hutter, Manfred | Schieder, Rolf | Thiemann, Ronald | Badry, Roswitha | Et al.
[German Version] I. Social Sciences Since its Greek origins, politics has meant (a) an action with a specific object, aiming to achieve the best way for all the inhabitants of the ancient city-state ( pólis) to live together and hence achieve the common good of the ¶ community ( koinón), and (b) the theory of this action (Sellin; see also Political science). Given that we no longer live in small urban societies but in large, open, and functionally complex societies (Society), politics includes – but cannot be limited to – the system of state g…

Trees and Plants

(1,210 words)

Author(s): Hutter, Manfred | Rüterswörden, Udo | Gemünden, Petra von
[German Version] I. Religious Studies The worldwide significance that trees and plants have in cultus and mythology is connected to the essential relationship between plants, animals and human beings. Trees and plants play an important part in archaic cultures and tribal religions. In religious studies three overlapping areas may be identified: 1. Cosmic connections. The world tree holds the cosmos together as axis mundi, with its roots in the underworld, its trunk in the human world…

Moon

(1,832 words)

Author(s): Hutter, Manfred
[German Version] I. History of Religion – II. Archaeology I. History of Religion Owing to its high degree of observability, the moon (like the sun and Venus; cf. constellations, astrology, astral religion) plays an important role in various mythological traditions. Analogies to cosmological processes and to the sequence of life/fecundity and death were seen in the alternation of the lunar phases, but they also served as a paradigm for calendrical cycles (Calendar). The dates of the new moon and of the full moon in partic…

Divine Messengers

(394 words)

Author(s): Hutter, Manfred
[German Version] Divine messages may be imparted to human beings in a non-personal way (e.g. through omens, dreams) or through (semi-)divine beings or angels. Divine messengers are “religious border crossers” for they can cross the boundaries between the terrestrial-human and the extraterrestrial-divine cosmos; in this respect, angels in Judaism, Christianty and Islam also rank …

Wisdom Literature

(4,476 words)

Author(s): Hutter, Manfred | Lange, Armin | Lips, Hermann v. | Bagordo, Andreas
[German Version] I. Religious Studies Words for wisdom display a great range of meanings, which need to be taken into account in discussing Wisdom literature. Etymologically the words wise and wisdom ¶ (also Ger. Wissen, “knowledge”) derive from th…

Syncretism

(5,112 words)

Author(s): Berner, Ulrich | Hutter, Manfred | Auffarth, Christoph | Leicht, Reimund | Roxborogh, John | Et al.
[German Version] I. Terminology The word syncretism in its broadest sense denotes any blend or combination of diverse cultural phenomena. This usage derives from an apparently reasonable but false etymology: syncretism is commonly derived from the Greek verb συνκεράννυμι/ synkeránnymi, “mix.” In fact, however, it is a neologism coined by Plutarch ( Mor. 490b), who called the way Creta…

Nomads

(476 words)

Author(s): Hutter, Manfred
[German Version] Ideally, nomads are defined as living off the yield of their flocks and herds; they therefore move about as shepherds in response to climatic conditions, which dominate their animal husbandry, their livelihood, and their worldview. Pure nomadism is (or was) found primarily in three geographical regions. 1. The (semi)nomadic peoples of northern Eurasia (Finno-Ugrian religions) adapt to clear seasonal changes, with transhumance in the spring and fall. The basis of their livelihood is raising reindeer (Saami, Samoyeds…

Statistics, Religion Adherence

(845 words)

Author(s): Hutter, Manfred
[German Version] In the first instance, religious statistics report the data that provide information on the local or global distribution of individual religions or religious groups. They are one aspect of a larger “religiometrics,” which includes all measurable factors associated with religion (e.g. sacred buildings, production of religious …

Contest

(454 words)

Author(s): Hutter, Manfred
[German Version] Originating in Greek antiquity, contest or competition carried out on a field with the objective of victory entered metaphorical usage, in Christianity as elsewhere, as Agon. In a broader sense, however, competition and sport are attested in many religious contexts or can be used and interpreted in religion. In this regard, competition continues essentially to be competition with the goal of victory, while the term “sports,” used in England since the 16th century (from Latin disportare, “to amuse, entertain oneself”), refers to physical training i…

Astral Religion

(537 words)

Author(s): Hutter, Manfred
[German Version] (from Gk ἄστρα/ ástra, “stars”) refers to the cultic worship of heavenly bodies or deities associated with them. The relationship between a heavenly body and a deity may range from identification to mere association – the boundaries are fluid. There is no astral religion per se, but elements of astral religion appear within particular religious systems. Some scholars have attempted to trace the whole of mythology to astral …

Demons and Spirits

(6,288 words)

Author(s): Hutter, Manfred | Görg, Manfred | Kollmann, Bernd | Haustein, Jörg | Koch, Guntram | Et al.
[German Version] I. History of Religion (Ancient Near East and Antiquity) – II. Old Testament – III. New Testament – IV. Church History – V. Iconography – VI. Practical Theology – VII. Judaism – VIII. Islam I. History of Religion (Ancient Near East and Antiquity) The term “demon” as used in European language groups derives from the Greek (δαίμων/ daímōn), where it initially also referred simply to gods (ϑεοί/ theoí; cf. Homer Iliad 1.122) without either positive or negative connotations. The exclusively “negative” charge associated with demons doubtless represents a secondary development reflecting an understanding that opposes them to the gods. In the ancient Near East and antiquity in general, demons exhibit several consistent features. Their preferred setting is on the periphery or outside of human civilization; their external appearance is often repugnant or hideous, or they are portrayed as composite beings, i.e. as part animal and part human. Even though demons are conceived as supernatural beings, hierarchically they are not only usually positioned beneath gods, but as a rule are not venerated cultically – though human beings can communicate with them either to thwart them or to gain their …

Devil

(8,622 words)

Author(s): Felber, Annelies | Hutter, Manfred | Achenbach, Reinhard | Aune, David E. | Lang, Bernhard | Et al.
[German Version] I. Names and Terms – II. Religious Studies – III. Ancient Near East and Old Testament – IV. New Testament – V. Church History – VI. Philosophy of Religion – VII. Fundamental Theology – VIII. Dogmatics – IX. Judaism – X. Islam – XI. History of Art and Literature I. Names and Terms 1. Devil The secular Greek noun διάβολος/ diabolos comes from one of the m…

Proskynesis

(160 words)

Author(s): Hutter, Manfred
[German Version] As a communicative gesture, proskynesis (from Gk προσκυνεῖν/ proskyneín, “to kiss toward [someone]”; cf. Lat. adorare, venerari) expresses humility and deference: accompanied by genuflection or prostration, it consisted of placing one’s hand to one’s mouth and then extending it toward the person being honored. In Assyria and ancient Persia, it was common as a gesture of homage when entering a ruler’s presence; Greek religion considered proskynesis appropriate only when offered to the gods. During…

History of Religions

(1,831 words)

Author(s): Hutter, Manfred
[German Version] I. Definition – II. History – III. Sources – IV. Challenges and Accomplishments I. Definition The history of religions deals descriptively and empirically with all religions, past and present. All observable manifestations of these religions are the subject matter of the discipline: teachings, actions, structures and forms of community, individual expressions of faith, and collective modes of behavior. The history of religions thus studies religions in the pl…

Name, Belief in the

(332 words)

Author(s): Hutter, Manfred
[German Version] The name of a person or divinity (Names of God) expresses in many cultures an individual and unmistakable mark of that person's essential being. From this the idea grows that anyone who knows that name can have authority over the person in question. Partly bound up with this is the fear that if the name is known, enemies or demons may gain power over the bearer of the name; thus the real name must be kept secret. The revelation of the name by a divinity (cf. Exod 3), the discovery…

Parsiism

(1,019 words)

Author(s): Hutter, Manfred
[German Version] The Parsis (Parsees) are Zoroastrians (Zarathustra) who once lived in Iran. After Iran was Islamized, they emigrated via a complex route to their future home in Gujarat (India). Their emigration is recalled with a theological slant in the Qissa-i Sanjan, “The Story of Sanjan.” The Persian text, written in 1599 or 1600, is the earliest source describing the arrival and settlement of the Zoroastrians in India, where they were called Parsis because of their Persian background. The Parsi tradition dates the…

Hemerology

(103 words)

Author(s): Hutter, Manfred
[German Version] As a technique of divination/manticism, day-selection is a practice that assumes that specific days are auspicious or inauspicious for carrying out certain actions. Hemerologies containing lists of such days have come down to us from ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, the cultures of Classical Antiquity, and Judeo-¶ Christian tradition, as well as from the Chinese and Aztec cultures. Manfred Hutter Bibliography M. Kalinowski, “Les traités de Shuihudi et l'hémérologie chinoise à la fin des Royaumes-Combattants,” T'oung Pao 72, 1986, 175–228 C. Leitz, Tagewählerei. …

Rainbow

(242 words)

Author(s): Hutter, Manfred
[German Version] As a sign of God’s covenant (Gen 9:12–17; according to Zenger, God’s war bow) after the Flood, the rainbow has largely positive connotations in Western history; this causes the ancient Greek tradition, according to which the rainbow is considered an ominous sign of future continuous rain (Ovid, Met. I, 270), to recede into the background. Both traditions, as omen and as link between the cosmic regions, are widespread in religious history. The rainbow is thought of as a bridge on which the gods walk across the sky, down to the …

Oracle

(1,534 words)

Author(s): Vollmer, Ulrich | Hutter, Manfred | Wandrey, Irina | Egelhaaf-Gaiser, Ulrike
[German Version] I. Religious Studies – II. History of Religion I. Religious Studies The term “oracle,” derived from the Latin noun oraculum, denotes, (1) in close connection with the original meaning of the word, the oracle site, i.e. the place at which a divine statement ( orare…
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